Dec 09 2016
I became a vegetarian. Technically, I’ve become an ovo-lacto vegetarian. Eggs are fine. So is cheese. And milk. My choice is to just not eat anything anymore for which an animal has to die.
My wife had made that choice over 30 years ago, when she was a young teenager. She’s not on a mission to convert others, but she also never second-guessed the personal ethical choice that she made. For someone like me who has lived on a carnivorous diet most of his life and who really loves the taste of meat, even raw meat, this step required quite a development. In my case, it actually took years to finally get there — from making the mental connection between the cow on the field opposite of my house to the steak or the hamburger on my plate. It took me a while to realize how brainwashed we all are, how we are all just raised to eat meat and how nobody bothers second-guessing that choice that was made for us by our parents and families, and how our brains simply refuse to make this extremely obvious connection between the living animal we’re looking at and then live with the realization that this creature has to die in a very brutal, bloody and undignified way to become our next hamburger. I just cannot with pure conscience look into the eye of a cow anymore or even pet her when I’m taking my dog for a walk and then move on to having a steak for lunch. I kept seeing the cow’s eyes whenever there was meat on my plate.
People will tell you bullshit like “we’re Apex Predators” or “we’re omnivores, we were built to eat meat”. Now here are a few thoughts about that: I don’t see most of us hunt and kill their prey. Most of us are simply carcass eaters, which makes us bottom-feeders, but not predators. Predators hunt and kill. Most of us humans only eat the leftovers of what others have killed. So just stop that self-flattering talk about being an apex predator. You’re not. You eat carcasses, that’s what you do.
Yes, we are designed to be omnivores. That just means that we can eat everything. It does not mean that we have to eat everything in order to survive. We have a choice there, and our advanced civilization makes that choice incredibly easy. It’s like owning a fast car. Just because you can drive 300 km/h doesn’t mean that you should do it or must do it – and usually it’s advisable not to even think about it. You eat dead animals because you choose to do so, not because mother nature forces you to do so. Nature gave you a choice that a dog, a tiger, an eagle or a shark have not. So stop using it as an excuse or even argument, because it is neither.
On a global scale, breeding and eating animals is nothing but a sign of our self-destructive stupidity as a species. Even if you don’t care about the ethical problem to kill a living being in order to nourish yourself, from a simple calorie perspective, animal husbandry is highly inefficient compared to farming — simply speaking, you burn more food breeding animals than you gain by eating them. It is economically stupid.
I was as much of an uncontrolled meat eater as I was a very heavy smoker. I managed to give up both those extremely disgusting and even unhealthy habits. In many aspects, it is much harder to give up on eating meat than it is to keep a cigarette addiction in check. The world out there, at least here in Germany, is focused on selling and serving meat as if there were nothing else to be had. It’s a horrible mindset that is (quite ironically) passed on rather mindlessly from generation to generation, and there is absolutely no rationale or justification behind it. People simply refuse to think about it or change it, while all that it nowadays is is a stupid and cruel habit.
When I go to a supermarket, a restaurant or any place that sells or serves food, it is sheer unbelievable how limited the choices for vegetarians are — not because the choices are actually as limited as they appear, but simply because nobody gives a damn to even think about food that does not contain meat. When I did some shopping with my wife yesterday, 2/3 of the grocery store were not accessible to me anymore. That was a strange experience.
There can be an amazing range of varieties on a vegetarian menu if only you find a cook that cares about it. For example, the Italian, Asian and Mexican kitchens deliver amazing foundations for vegetarian food, and my wife is great at exploring those options. In Germany, we’re also lucky that we live in a country that has such an amazing variety of different breads. And we import every vegetable and fruit known to mankind. Even though our grocery stores tell a different story at a first glimpse, the choice to not consume meat anymore is actually quite simple because of the richness of the available other goods. And shopping chains like Norma even began to explicitly label vegan and vegetarian goods with a big, green “V” logo, making the decision to shop there so much easier.
When you prepare a meal, the trick I believe is not to think about traditional meals where you simply leave out the meat – that will always leave you with a feeling that’s something’s missing. Create recipes for meals that never contained meat in the first place, that will make the transition much easier – and the food so much better.
Yes, it is a very deep change. But the eyes of the cows stopped following me and I can live better with myself and feel more balanced with my conscience and beliefs.
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